Opinion: The Pipe Pig
Last updated December 14, 2018 by Balyn McDonald
The Pipe Invitational has started and the surf is less than inspiring. The WSL must still be relieved; after four consecutive lay-days,they had milked the teat of world title scenarios dry.
In case you somehow missed it: If Medina makes the final, Filipe/Julian can suck eggs; if he places 3rd, they need to win, and; if Medina gets 5th or worse, the contenders would need to final.
Simple, clean, boring.
It’s made worse by the fact that – due the WSL seeding process – there is zero chance that Medina will meet either of the others before the final, and by then the title would have already been won.
If the WSL is trying to make their tour finale interesting,they’re doing it wrong; it’s not just the title that matters. There are untold qualification stories to be sifted through, there’s the whole Caio/Kelly/John wildcard conundrum they’re avoiding, there’s a meaningless rookie of the year title,and there’s the not-quite-a-world-title race for the Triple Crown.
Give me a few minutes, and I’ll put lipstick on this Pipe Masters pig. Maybe, just maybe, we can still redeem this flaccid Pipe beast.
Forget the numbers; how can we make it interesting? Here are two scenarios:
The closest we could come to a true finals showdown would before Medina to lose the first semi-final, while Filipe and Julian to battle it out in the next heat for a shot at a maiden title. Even then, the Filipe/Julian winner would have to best Medina’s victor in the final to claim the season. You’d get a rush of interest at Gabriel’s loss, immediately followed by a head-to-head between the two contenders, followed by a world title decided in the Pipe final.
Alternatively, you could have Medina fall early, and enjoy the round-by-round tension of watching Filipe and Julian attempt to reach the necessary final. Would they fold under the pressure? Would they grab the opportunity with both hands? This scenario also offers the possibility of seeing Filipe/Julian meet for a winner-takes-all, semi-final battle royal for a breakthrough world title. Sure, the final itself would be a hollow victory lap, but maybe it could be against a feel-good underdog. I hear Kelly Slater may be entering…
I know you can’t script this, but a little tension wouldn’t hurt.
With the QS wrapped up for the year, Pipe provides us with the only remaining qualification variables. Before you can even say, “Who is Deivid Silva?”, Pipe will be breaking the hearts and careers of R2 surfers below the cut. For those who don’t play fantasy or gamble, schadenfreude is a game that is free, easy, and well-suited to Pipeline.
Right now, Kanoa doesn’t need his QS spot, as he’s guaranteed a place via the CT already. Griffin, Jesse and Zeke could all join him in rendering their QS results redundant with a decent Pipe showing. That leaves Jack Freestone and Ethan Ewing on the bubble, praying for results to go their way, and death-riding any spoilers with voodoo eyes from the sand.
If you check the table below, you can see that most tour surfers are actually still in the running (pink) for a 2019 tour spot. An unlikely Pipe win for Miguel Pupo could see him qualify with only 9 events to his name. Perpetual 2018 also-rans such as Michael February and Ian Gouveia could also make the cut with an appearance in the Pipe final. Use this as your Pipe bingo card, and ride the waves of salty tears as each surfer suffers the dawning reality of their inadequacy.
|Surfer||Points||Ranking||If 13th||If 9th||If 5th||If 3rd||If 2nd||If 1st|
|Adriano de Souza||22925||17||24170||26205||27250||28590||30305||32505|
|John John Florence||10795||33||12040||14075||15120||16460||18175||20375|
Speaking of tears, there is a Shakespearian tragedy about to befall a legitimate* tour surfer in 2019. John John, Caio and Kelly have all suffered genuine* injuries this season, with each of them presenting the WSL with a reasonable* case for earning one of the two commissioner’s permanent wildcard places on tour next year.
Parko, after surfing through the past 2 seasons on cruise control, is pulling his competitive finger out and giving a fuck one last time.If he does well enough at Pipe, Parko will not only equal Andy’s record of 4 Triple Crowns, but he’ll also shore up an unwanted place on tour for 2019. Joel can go out a winner, while all three cripples get their free ride next year. Genius.
If Joel falls short, they could still offer the ‘sponsor’s wildcard’ place to Kelly at each 2019 event without an actual sponsor, which seems to be most events in 2019. Or Kelly could just win Pipe. To hell with wildcard charity.
* these are fluid terms
Rookie of the Year
Sorry, I can’t really dress this up. It’s meaningless.Besides, Wade basically has it wrapped up; if he makes R4, he’s unbeatable.Besides, what is the ROTY anyway? Can you name any previous ROTY winners? Did it help Connor O this year? Or Dion Atkinson a few years back? Is there a massive cash bonus? Is Kekoa Bacalso still living off the spoils of his ROTY title?
At 31st place, Michel Bourez can still mathematically take out the Triple Crown with a Pipe win. In fact, there are 15 surfers in the Pipe event who have a shot. The WSL have again shit the bed with their coverage of the Triple Crown series, despite all 3 events being their own.
See the breakdown below:
|Hawaiian Pro||Vans World Cup||Points after a Pipe win|
|Pos.||Name||Country||Total Points||Prize Money||Position||Points||Position||Points|
So, that’s the situation. Other than the forecast improving, or surfers pulling out individual brilliance, these are the stories the WSL should be telling. How’s the Pipe pig looking now?